Skip to content →

Date archive for: April 2016

wearables – week 10 / almost there!

/ last week update

I was still struggling with the servo motor and the fringes. I kept on trying with the motor, trying different libraries to make it work with the attiny85 but nothing worked. So I decided to put it aside and go back to the fringes.

Me and Jordan went to “Shape Changing Materials” workshop held by Wearshop and Nomena on the first weekend of April. While I was there, I got some feedback over the project and decided to give one last shot for the reflective band + photoluminiscent thread. When you put them under light (artificial or natural), they become photoluminscent.File_001


So I sewed the photoluminescent thread on the reflective ribbon and it wasn’t bright enough.



I decided to keep with the fringes and I’ll try a technique with hot glue to weight it and illuminate the fiber optic better; also last week’s guest speaker gave me the tip that I should reach Corning for their Diffused Fiber Optic.


yes it finally did! After struggling so much I decided to reach out to one of the residents (Pedro) and the problem was that I was using the wrong library . So this is the circuit working:


/ fabrication time

So it’s time to fabricate with the real materials! At least to have a prototype closer to the final thing and be able to see where I have to make it better. I’ve decided that my aesthetic is a “a punk haute-couture” acessory. I got a vinyl fabric that looks like a matte leather and it stretches in one way. To have a nice and clean cut I went to the Cameo Sillouette cutter we have a t the soft lab and started testing the cutting settings & sizes. it is a pretty easy machine to use, the trickiest part for me was that the cutting mats were all worn out and didn’t have enough adherence to make the vinyl stick to it – leading to a few blobs while cutting and double cuts with different origins.


After I got the settings right, I went to do the model on illustrator and cut it. It went very well and I’ve also done some tests with the sewing machine. for some reason the white ones would go through the vinyl, but the baby blue went pretty well (thank you Teresa!)


/ assembling



and when I fit the photocell and the servo mount with the fringes…it didn’t work. I’m still trying to figure out why it didn’t work, but I’ve noticed that often the circuit behaves weirdly, so I have to figure this out.

But the circuit is working, I have an assembling/fabrication pretty clear – is just a matter of stabilizing things. when it’s all together.

/finals observations

Last class, one thing Despina said is that even if we don’t have our product finished the important is to have the experience finished. I rethought about the idea of having a glove with a switch and…this is not what I was looking for at first. I went back to my core requirements and definitely practical / organic is in the scope. I want bikers to use it without having to think how they will turn the fringes on or off. On this perspective, the lighting part is doing is job; the movement in the fringes is what I want to also be as effortless as possible. So for the final presentation, I’ll just “fake” the experience. Like I’ve said before, my goal is that the signalization system can anticipate when you are going to turn (not when you are turning).

/presentation structure

  1.  inspiration
  2. concept
  3. core requirements
  4. first material tests
  5. user observation
  6. narrowing of the product
  7. product dissection
  8. production steps
  9. final product
  10. next steps to further develop it
  11. learnings



Leave a Comment

wearables / week 08 – keep it running

/ fringes

This week I kept on testing the fringes, using more fiber optic as well as reflective fabric. I cut the reflective ribbon in thinner ribbons and sew it in the back of the fringe. It gave the fringe more structure but lightning wise it didn’t make it brighter.

I also tested adding a second layer of optic fiber and it lights up better, but it’s still not too bright. I’m struggling to find a way of making this system to work (make the fringes brighter!) and therefore I’ll try to test to make the fringes with photoluminescent thread.

Personally I prefer the fiber optic aesthetic and I feel that the fiber optic can work if I add more layers but it also takes a lot of time due to the preparation process (cutting, sand papering, going through the fringe’s holes, gathering all fiber optic, glueing it and attaching to the LED – around 4 hours in a 5cm fringe).

/mini servo

my tiny servo arrived and I’m very excited about it! I started testing it with the Arduino Uno and it works great; with the Lilytiny I’m still trying to figure out what is happening because it doesnt look like its obeying the code (although it is spinning). I’ll reach for the residents and other students that have done prjects with servos and attinys this week.

I’ve also tested the stacking solution for the circuit and it works great! So for now, I’ll use the weird neoprene as my ~ enclosure ~ for the circuit

File_001 (1)


after doing some tests, I’ve realized that I’ll need at least 5V to power my circuit (specially because the servo needs at least 4.8V to work). I checked and the attiny can take up to 5.5V. I tested the circuit with the bench power supply and for some reason the servo was not driving any current – I guess this has to do with the buggy servo library for attinys, hopefully this will be fixed soon.

But in any case, it will be more likely that to power it up I’ll be using two 3V coin cells in series (~ 6V).

/how i forgot this?

so after I was working this week on the elbow patch I realized I had forgotten something very important… how am i going to turn the circuit on and off?!

I was mesmerized on how I just blanked it from my mind and since I started the project I’ve been biking more, so this week I was just observing my own movements to see what kind of movement I could do to turn it on/off. I’ll prototype a fingerless glove with some button within in to see how it feels because the hands seems to be the best place to put it (specially because there are some areas of it that you never touch).

so for next week my tasks are:

  • test photoluminescent fringe
  • get motor to work properly
  • make glove and test how comfortable it feels


Leave a Comment

wearables – week 07 / sizing it properly & choosing an aesthetic direction

/quick update from last last week

last last week I focused on making the circuit to work – servo, photocell and LED. and it worked. I started testing it with an Arduino Uno, but for the elbow patch I need to size it down, in a way that the whole circuit can be inside it. So I decided to try one of the sewable microcontrollers and use the technique of stacking up (Pibow is a good example) a soft and thick material to be sure the circuit would have all the elements in place and safely cushioned.

i tried using the arduino gema at first but for some reasons things didn’t work well – and in the end, I accidentaly shortened it while soldering wires on the board. a bit frustrated, I gave me a time out of this and restart with a clear mind.

/attiny 85

and so I decided to start with something a little bit more trickier to set but better on the size: a lilytiny board (sewable pcb with an attiny85). after setting the arduino software, I started doing some tests bootloading the microcontroller. one great thing about it is that the synthax is pretty much the same, so is just a matter of knowing which pins are digital and analog and pluging things properly.

I started making the separate actions to work: first the combo LED + photocell. it worked great:



and then I tried working with the servo motor. (ps: I ordered a servo that I’m very excited about using because it’s height is the same as a penny) and it’s not working properly. it looks like it is sending the signal, but there is not enough power to make it work the way it was on the arduino board. I’ve been talking with some colleagues that have done projects with attinys and servos, hopefully i’ll get this to work (with the tiny servo) this week.

/mood inspired

along with the circuitry, I was also thinking about the aesthetic of the patch…but I didn’t know how I wanted it to look. I knew I wanted to keep on working with the fringes + optic fiber , but i had no clue on what kind of fabric I wanted the structure to be.

and so I went to mood and got very inspired by a vinyl fabric they had there. it looks like a matte leather and as soon as i found it, it hit me – the elbow patch will be a luxury fashion statement,an haute-couture accessory for female commuters.



and so I tested a thinner fiber optic with the fringers – they light up better that the ones on the prototype, but I should test with more than one thread per whole to light it up more

and after talking with Viniyata (a dear ITPers friend), I found that I could find a lot of inspiration on Comme des Garçons Fall 2016 show in which Rei Kawakubo imagines punks on the 18th century, so inspiring! and I believe those two looks below are related to what I’ll try to reach within the next weeks.

/ next steps

  • finish circuit
  • test stacking technique with fabric
  • test vinyl
  • think interesting attachments systems
  • prototype
  • prototype
  • […]
  • prototype
Leave a Comment

radio ga ga / final – invisibilidade

For radio ga ga’s final, I decided to do a sound installation using brazilian sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares work about invisibility. His essays published on the book Cabeça de Porco addresses the topic on the light of brazilian society’s perception and stigma over kids that were born and raised in underprevileged communities in Brazil. Working with an apparently empty space, the user gets in a room and is given a listening device.


Through radio transmition and emition, two different frequencies that alternate each other are transmitting synched audio recordings of a woman (reference to the unclear goal of numbers station) reading the essays – in english and in portuguese. As the public walks in the room, the listening device will hop between the frequencies, creating intentional noise to the understanding of the essay by making it understandable/visible or obfuscate/invisible in different areas of the room.



So the first thing I tried was to receive/listen signals with GQRX + RTL-SDR radio set. After a few software updates and installed it worked fine. So I went to the other challenge: to transmit radio signals.

I reached out to the student list and I got this 80s Radio Shack FM wireless mike transmitter. It was very insteresting to see that it all came to be assembled – and how basically to make a radio transmitter is just a matter of putting a bunch of capacitor, resistors and antenna together.


I thought there was a chance of it doesn’t work because I have no idea when Radio Shack had that logo, but it workedIMG_1348 !

The transmitter works between 91-96 MHz and the “potentiometer” that sets the frequency is very small. It doesn’t give any visual indication of what frequency you are tuned in to, so I had to turn the GQRX on keep on tapping the mic / whistling on it and see where I saw some kind of distortion on the frequency. It really messed up the signal:

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.02.34 PM



After this experiment, I came with it to class and Surya brought a few questions to me: was I able to stabilize the frequency transmission? Is the antenna the right length? How is the output of the transmission and reception (aka what will be the experience)?

So the first thing I did was to use an antenna that was the right size. For the frequency range, the antenna had to be between 3-3.20 m. So I coiled it up and went back to the GQRX to see how the signals would be. This time they were not distorting the whole range and they showed a stronger signal.IMG_1349




And then I decided to experiment and replace the microphone on the transmitter for a jack plug. I plugged it in and turned the transmitter on as well as turned the music on on Spotify.


And this is what I got:

Because I was using the jack plug in to transmit music, I wasn’t able to listen to the GQRX. So I tried using a jack splitter, but it didn’t work – I was listening to both audios (the computer and the radio).

/next steps

Although the class is over, I really feel motivated to keep on developing this project. There are a lot of things that I should explore (ie soundflower and rpitx), so the next steps are the following:

transmit recorded sounds from transmitter

“anchor” audio to two specific frequencies

control frequency hopping

design user (receiver) device

fabricate transmitter(s) and receiver

Leave a Comment